18 May 2018

PakSoc criticised for neglecting to screen documentary

The leaders of Oxford’s Pakistan Society have been accused of “intolerance and bigotry” against the Ahmadi religious minority after they allegedly neglected to screen a documentary about Dr Abdus Salam.

The documentary, which was screened on 12th May by the Oxford University Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association (OUAMSA), described the life and achievements of Salam, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1979.

Salam, who identified as an Ahmadi (or Ahmadiyya) Muslim, was the first Pakistani to win a Nobel Prize.

Ahmadis face constant discrimination and ostracisation in Pakistan, where they were declared “non-Muslims” under Pakistani law in 1974 – a stance which has been repeatedly criticised by the international community. [Cherwell Newspaper] Read more

Report reveals Leicester Islamic school's library contained books condoning violence to women

An Islamic faith school in Leicester has been slammed by Ofsted after it found “inappropriate” reading material in the boys’ library.

Leicester Community Academy, in Overton Road, has been rated “inadequate” by the education watchdog who said its curriculum was “unlawfully discriminatory”.

One book said a husband had no recourse but to “divorce his wife” if they refused to bear a child even after they had completed their studies on the pretext of work and career.

More worryingly, the report said the book condoned violence towards women by their husbands if the wife was deemed not to be fulfilling her duties.

Girls, it said, did not have any access to a library.

Inspectors also said the curriculum’s “insular ethos” meant pupils were “ill prepared for life in British Society.” [The Leicester Mercury] Read more

15 May 2018

16 Guards Are Needed to Protect a German Imam Who Fights for Gender Equality

Berlin-based Imam Seyran Ates, 55, has had to get used to the hate mail and the death threats.

She hardly cut a popular figure among Germany’s Muslim population before 2017; as a lawyer, she used to represent victims of domestic abuse and other violence perpetrated by her clients’ conservative-Muslim husbands and brothers. Ates has a scar on her neck from where a would-be murderer’s bullet hit her years ago.

Then, last year, the Istanbul-born feminist really painted a bull’s-eye on herself when she started the Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque in the German capital. It’s a place of worship where men and women pray in the same space. Burqas and niqabs are strongly discouraged, headscarves are optional, and women often lead in prayer. [Patheos] Read more

Call to shut down Islamic school that warned girls not to use tampons

Birmingham's shadow education chief has called for an Islamic faith school to be shut down following a catalogue of failure and negative headlines.

Conservative education spokesman Matt Bennett described the Al Hijrah School in Bordesley Green as a "damaged brand" after it was reported girls were warned not to use tampons .

It has been run by a Birmingham City Council interim executive board (IEB) for four years since the school first ran into trouble amid claims of financial mismanagement.

But no permanent trust or organisation has offered to take on the school.

Cllr Bennett (Edgbaston) said: “No one wants to do it. There’s been a catalogue of problems here over many years and the school has a reputation for trouble. [Birmingham Mail] Read more

Islamophobia is real. Stop the obsession with semantics

.... most people of good faith understand that Islamophobia as a concept or social phenomenon also goes beyond a literalist dictionary definition.

The term was first popularised by the Runnymede Trust in a report published in 1997. The term had emerged following the need for a specific word to focus minds and lead to substantive action against growing anti-Muslim prejudice. It was initially defined as “unfounded hostility towards Muslims, and therefore fear or dislike of all or most Muslims” with the “phobia” element based on the common “xenophobia” framework in a similar way to homophobia.

From the outset and in that Runnymede report, it has always been made clear that Islamophobia does not encompass disagreement, criticism or even condemnation of Islam. It is complete hogwash to pretend otherwise. [Miqdaad Versi, 480 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 718 votes] Islamophobia is used to silence any and all criticism of an ideology. Which, like any other ideology, should be open to perfectly legitimate criticism.

[2ND 637] In my opinion there are some things about Islam (as well as other prosletising religions) that we in the modern, liberal world SHOULD fear.

Therfore there can be no such thing as "Islamophobia"; there is reason to fear it.

[5TH 384] The distinction between legitimate criticism and 'phobia' is purely in the mind of the beholder. Britain is certainly a more tolerant society than many of those based on Islamic beliefs.[Guardian Cif] Read more

14 May 2018

Let’s not confuse anti-Muslim hate with Islamophobia

.... The term “Islamophobia”, which is so readily accepted by some to describe anti-Muslim hatred, was coined in the Runnymede Report of 1997. It used the word to encompass hatred of both Islam, the religion, and Muslims, the people.

Much has changed in the 20 years since then and today anyone can criticise or even hate any religion, including Islam. It is not illegal to do so and some Muslims also criticise elements of the faith. Are they Islamophobic?

We are therefore no longer in the “Islamophobia” space where hatred of Islam can be rolled in with real-world attacks on Muslims. All of our criminal and civil laws are based on the protection of people, and rightly so. Which means that anti-Muslim hatred is measurable and recordable, unlike the nebulous term “Islamophobia”. [The Times (£)] Read more

13 May 2018

Men-only event at US mosque sparks backlash

A small Muslim community in upstate New York has been thrust into a debate on the place of women after one of their members made a call for change on social media.

For the Hudson Islamic Center, 29 April was a momentous day.

After more than 20 years praying in another building's basement, they were ready to begin work on a space of their own.

While they had acquired land in 2007, the community had spent years collecting funds for construction. Now with contributions from the working-class families that made up their community and a commitment from a New York City Muslim builder to take payment in phases, the time had come to build a mosque.

On the bright Sunday morning, the community gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony. Local dignitaries were invited, speeches were made and the $1.5m project - a three-floor structure with two minarets and a dome - was unveiled.

Missing from the picture, however, were the women from the community, many of whom had been actively involved in fundraising. [BBC] Read more

1 dead, 41 hurt as suicide bombers hit Indonesian churches

Suicide bombers on motorcycles and including a woman with children targeted Sunday Mass congregations in three churches in Indonesia’s second largest city, killing at least 11 people and wounding dozens in one of the worst attacks on the Christian minority, police said.

The first attack struck the Santa Maria Roman Catholic Church in Surabaya, killing four people, including one or more bombers, police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera told reporters at the scene. He said two police officers were among a total of 41 wounded.

The blast was followed by a second explosion minutes later at the Christian Church of Diponegoro and a third at the city’s Pantekosta Church, Mangera said. [AP / FOX 17 News] Read more

12 May 2018

German brewery scraps World Cup bottle caps after Saudi Arabia flag row

A Mannheim brewery has apologized after printing 32 World Cup team flags on its beer bottles. Social media users took issue with the Islamic statement of faith — part of Saudi Arabia's flag — being linked to alcohol.

A local German brewery announced on Friday it was halting a marketing campaign tied to the World Cup after sparking outrage on social media.

The Eichbaum brewery, located in the southwestern German city of Mannheim, printed the flags of each of the 32 World Cup national teams on its bottle caps to celebrate the upcoming soccer tournament.

The inclusion of Saudi Arabia's flag on the beer bottle caps, however, prompted numerous complaints on Facebook and Twitter. [Deutsche Welle] Read more

Europe's Muslim population to hit 8 pct by 2030: Report

The Muslim population of Europe will rise to 8 percent and of the United States to 2.1 percent by 2030, according to Global Muslim Diaspora Report released on Saturday.

The report was released at a workshop in Istanbul called “Muslim Diaspora: Global Peace and Difficulties for Welfare.”

The two-day workshop was co-organized by the Turkish Prime Ministry’s Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB) and the Statistical Economic and Social Research and Training Center for Islamic Countries (SESRIC) under the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The report also underlines that Austria has highest Muslim population in Europe. It adds that currently 44 million Muslims live in Europe and over 5 million in the U.S.

The report’s results are being discussed during two-day workshop, which concludes tomorrow, with the attendance of scholars from all around the world. [Anadolu Agency] Read more

11 May 2018

Islamic school accused of warning girls not to use tampons

The Al-Hijrah School reportedly sent out the guidance in a memo to teachers which called for ‘physical, sexual, moral and emotional development’ of pupils.

The school library also allegedly contained a book which said husbands can hit their wives and demand sex at any time.

A document leaked to the Sun called Sex and Relationships Education Policy 2017 discusses personal hygiene and states: ‘Among the various types of pads, tampons may not be appropriate due to insertion.’

Muna Adil, from religious think tank Quilliam, branded the advice ‘misogynistic and misinformed’. [Metro.co.uk] Read more

Saudi-financed Belgian mosques teach hatred of Jews, gays: report

Teaching manuals in Gulf Arab-financed mosques in Belgium promote anti-semitic stereotypes of Jews and call for the persecution of homosexuals, according to a leaked Belgian intelligence report.

The texts used in mosques including the Brussels Grand Mosque call for gays to be stoned to death or thrown off buildings and describe Jews as "evil", the report by the OCAM national terrorism monitoring centre said.

The writings, which are used to train preachers and theology professors, were "inspired mainly by classical Islamic law from the Middle Ages," OCAM said in a copy of the report obtained by AFP on Friday. [France24] Read more

Poll Finds Immigration and Terror Top Issues for People Across Europe

The top two issues facing the European Union (EU), according to voters in Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Sweden, Finland, Poland, and Lithuania, are immigration and terrorism.

The only nation where another issue occupied one of the top two spots, according to a new YouGov poll, was Italy, where they were immigration and unemployment.

Immigration was the top concern for the bloc as chosen by 53 per cent of people in Finland, 51 per cent in Greece, 49 per cent in Sweden, 47 per cent in Italy, and 39 per cent in Britain.

Terrorism was rated as number one by 43 per cent of people in Poland, 38 per cent in France, 35 per cent in the UK, and 34 per cent in Lithuania.

.... Professor Mathew Goodwin, a Senior Fellow at Chatham House, gave a brief analysis of the data on Twitter.

“There is a new issue agenda. Europe is moving rightwards,” he said.

“Unless the centre-left finds something meaningful to say it will be cast aside, not least because these issues will only likely become more important to voters,” he added, mentioning “migration, ethnic change, unresolved refugee crisis.” [Breitbart London] Read more

09 May 2018

Anti-Semitic material used to train imams in Belgium

A number of Muslim institutions in Belgium are using ultra-conservative manuals containing anti-Semitic passages to train imams, according to a confidential report by the country’s coordination body for threat assessment (OCAM).

The body found that training manuals used in Brussels’ Grand Mosque, as well as other institutions, contained “outdated and extremely conservative language” and teachings that stand in “stark contrast with Belgian or European social contexts,” according to RTL.

The study, which analyzed manuals used in 2016 and 2017, was originally intended for the parliamentary committee following up on the March 2016 terror attacks in Brussels.

According to La Libre, which saw a copy of the report, the manuals contained anti-Semitic and homophobic passages, as well as violent calls to jihad. In one text, Jews are reportedly called “a corrupt, avaricious and perfidious people,” while another said homosexuals should be thrown off buildings and stoned. [POLITICO] Read more

Berlin court bars Muslim teacher from wearing headscarf

A Muslim primary school teacher has lost her bid to overturn a law banning the wearing of religious clothing by public servants in Berlin.

The Berlin labour court judge ruled that the city-state's neutrality law for teachers, police and court officials was constitutional.

Germany's 16 states have differing laws on headscarves in schools.

Three years ago Germany's constitutional court overturned a blanket ban on teachers wearing them.

The federal court cited religious freedom, although civil servants across Germany are barred from covering their faces. The full face-veil is not allowed on a national level but the hijab is.

.... Wednesday's ruling has been welcomed by the founder of Berlin's liberal mosque, Seyran Ates, who has campaigned to keep religious symbols out of schools.

But Zeynep Cetin of the Network Against Discrimination and Islamophobia argued that the ruling was like a professional ban on the female teacher involved. [BBC] Read more

Birmingham woman duped daughter into forced marriage, court told

.... Jurors at Birmingham crown court heard how she was first betrothed to the man on a previous visit to Pakistan in 2012 when she was just 13. They were told that during the trip she was visited by an imam along with her future “husband”, who was then 29, and his parents.

“[She] was asked to sign a document which she thinks was some form of marriage agreement. That night when she wanted to sleep by her cousin the cousin told her she could not do this as she had to sleep by her husband,” the prosecuting barrister, Deborah Gould, told the court.

Gould added: “She was up until that point, as you can imagine at age 13, a virgin. That night [he] had sexual intercourse with [her].” [The Guardian] Read more

Berlin Court Upholds Ban on Teacher’s Islamic Headscarf in Classroom

A Berlin court has ruled that a law prohibiting a Muslim teacher from wearing a headscarf in a public school doesn’t violate her constitutional right to religious freedom.

The dpa news agency reported Wednesday that the Berlin labor court ruled that the city-state’s so-called neutrality law banning all religious clothing for public teachers, police officers and judicial employees wasn’t unconstitutional.

It noted that the teacher had agreed to follow the neutrality law when she was hired.

Such bans are decided on a state level in Germany and in 2015 the Federal Constitutional Court on appeal struck down a law in North Rhine-Westphalia that forbade headscarves, but exempted “Christian and Western educational and cultural values or traditions” from its ban. [AP] Read more

Just 18 Per Cent of Flemish Belgians Say Islam is Compatible with the West

Fewer than one in five Flemish Belgians consider Islamic values compatible with their own way of life, a survey has found, with many Muslim migrants saying Islam is more important than Belgian law.

Large-scale Muslim immigration into Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern region of Belgium, means Islam is now the largest minority religion after Catholicism, forming about 3.9 per cent of the general population and 25 per cent of the population in Brussels, a French-speaking enclave and the capital city of the European Union (EU).

A poll of close to 4,500 Flemish Belgians and Brussels residents with Belgian, Turkish, Moroccan, Polish, Romanian, and Congolese backgrounds found just 18 per cent thought Islamic values “go well” with Western society.

Even among Belgians with a Moroccan background, 40 per cent did not agree that Muslims adapt well to Western life, De Morgen reports. [Breitbart London] Read more

08 May 2018

Feminism Over Multiculturalism: Germany Backs ‘Values’ Classes for Refugees

Centre-right parties in Germany want to introduce “rule of law” classes for refugee children in which it would be stressed that state ‘values’ including gender equality take priority over cultural diversity.

A draft document prepared by Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party CSU ahead of the parliamentary group’s conference Monday would see young migrants taking lessons in ‘values’ at schools across Germany.

According to the Rheinische Post, the proposals would see the children of newcomers from the third world taught that press freedom, the protection of human dignity, and equality between men and women “stand as indispensable values above divergent cultural or religious views”.

The initiative, which was first floated last month by the CSU Bavarian premier Markus Söder, “would allow refugees to learn about our values and the rule of law, and, at the same time, teach them the limits and duties of our legal system,” states the Union document, which asserts that: “The integration of those who can stay in Germany is a priority issue, not least in order to preserve peace in our society”. [Breitbart London] Read more

40 per cent of Indonesian university students targeted by radical religious ideology, report says

.... Mr Gunawan said 15 Indonesian provinces were classified as high-risk areas and they were now closely monitoring three Indonesian universities.

The intelligence report also finds that 24 per cent of university students and 23.3 per cent of high school students in Indonesia are in favour of supporting jihad to establish an Islamic "caliphate".

The findings have been supported by previous research by other institutions in the country.

The Wahid Foundation, founded by former Indonesian president and Muslim scholar KH Abdurrahman Wahid, did a study on radicalisation in 2017.

It found nearly 60 per cent of high school students who were taking extracurricular activities in Islamic studies said they ready to be part of jihad even if violence was involved. [ABC] Read more

07 May 2018

Islamophobia is a fiction to shut down debate

Now consider Islamophobia. Anyone who calls out Islamist extremism as a fanatical or primitive interpretation of Islam currently dominant in the Muslim world is called an Islamophobe. Anyone who says the Muslim Brotherhood is a conspiracy to Islamise the world is called an Islamophobe. Yet evidence abounds to support such observations. Numerous Islamic religious authorities have upheld the uncompromising precepts behind Islamic fundamentalism and holy war.

Muslim Brotherhood documents relating to Britain, Europe and America talk about changing “the very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order, and its creed from ignorance to Islam” and “eliminating and destroying the western civilisation from within”.

Yet anyone sounding the alarm about this is called Islamophobic. These include the former Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somalian victim of genital mutilation and prominent critic of Islam who lives under police guard because of Islamist threats to her life. [Melanie Phillips, 510 comments]

[TOP RATED COMMENT 300 votes] Interesting points made, as a black man I have found that I have not received racism or prejudice from white people but I have from other ethnic communities. This is never mentioned in the media as they seem to like to make it seem only white peoples can be racist.

[2ND 253] I was brought up in an Islamist household, as a Salafi Muslim, and I can tell you with much assuredness that everything Melanie says here is utterly correct.

[3RD 218] The pervasive Islamaphobia narrative suggests that an inordinate and violent hatred of Muslims is manifested within our non-Muslim demographic. In the present century 88 people have been murdered in the UK by Muslims in hate and terror attacks targeting non-Muslims. If the propensity for murderous violence against Muslims had been manifested at the same rate from within the non-Muslim cohort, allowing for the fact that it is 20 times larger, then over 1,700 Muslim fatalities could have been anticipated. In fact the figure is 1: Finsbury Park.

If there really is such an inordinate, violent hatred of Muslims as the proponents of Islamophobia allege how do they square that with the fact that in respect of the propensity for the most serious (ie murderous) attacks the depredations caused by Islamophobia are miniscule compared to those caused by Kuffarphobia (for want of a better word).

I have never heard a Muslim commentator address the yawning discrepancy; I have rarely heard anyone in the media question it. It is as if the Islamaphobia narrative is self-justifying by dint of constant repetition. [The Times (£)] Read more

06 May 2018

Saudi Arabia 'will not end gender segregation' in public spaces

Saudi authorities have backtracked on plans to end gender segregation in public places and mandatory prayer-time closures for businesses as a part of a sweeping modernisation drive.

Saudi Arabia on Thursday launched a project, dubbed "Quality of Life Program 2020," designed to turn the deeply conservative kingdom into an entertainment hub.

A document handed out to journalists that outlined the programme called for lobbying to legalise gender mixing and allow shops to open during prayers.

The items were removed from versions posted online later.

Pro-government Sabq news website on Saturday denied that authorities had ever called for the divisive reforms, citing "informed sources". [The New Arab] Read more

05 May 2018

Atheist blogger arrested in Egypt for anti-Islam criticism

An atheist blogger who was previously detained for promoting his anti-religion views, was arrested by Egyptian police, a rights lawyer said on Saturday.

Sherif Gaber was in police custody on Saturday and set to be questioned by the prosecution on Sunday, Gamal Eid, head of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, told AFP.

"He has been arrested and should be questioned tomorrow," Eid said.

It was not immediately clear when Gaber was arrested.

In late March, Gaber tweeted that "some Muslim lawyers" filed a complaint against him with the attorney general for his critical views on Islam. [The New Arab] Read more

Young British Muslims are becoming much more liberal – but they aren’t less religious as a result

Muslims, especially second generation Muslims, seem to be finding ways to reconcile British culture with religion. It's only natural that, when Islamic thought has adapted to the context in Malaysia, in Pakistan and in Egypt, it can do so in Britain as well

.... So when Ipsos MORI released a review last month of all the major polling data on Muslim social attitudes to date, it’s surprising that no one picked up on the significance of its findings. Delve into the detail and what you find is something completely new.

What it showed is that Muslims are becoming more liberal. But what was surprising was that they’re not becoming less religious; if anything, the data suggests the opposite. The report noted rising religious observance over the 2005-2009 period, saying “this rise was particularly evident in the younger (16-29) age group (from 68 per cent to 80 per cent)” compared to 73-79 per cent for all Muslims.

And yet, these Muslims are more likely to want to fully integrate into all aspects of British life, have ethnically diverse friendship groups and think it correct that homosexuality is legal in Britain.

What is happening? Muslims, especially second generation Muslims, seem to be finding ways to reconcile British culture with religion. It’s only natural that, when Islamic thought has adapted to the context in Malaysia, in Pakistan and in Egypt, it can do so in Britain as well. Apparently, it can do so without becoming less Islamic.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] Whilst this can only be good news, if true, it is a bit of a PR article that glosses over many of the issues the Muslim community and Islam, as too often practiced, has.

There is fair agreement as to the issues with Islam and these have been discussed at length by people who have fundamental opposition to Islam, like Murray, to reformers, like Nawaz.

The near universal and unyielding view that the Koran is the literal word of Allah, that Mohammed is a perfect human and beyond question and the less universal but still common belief that Islamic law, Sharia, is a perfect legal system leads to an ever present intolerance amongst a disturbingly large minority/majority.

Being decentralised doesn't help either, leaving latitude for extremism even if the majority become liberal.

All of this is self evident in the Islamic world today with 14 nations believing that leaving Islam or being an atheist should be punished by death, the prevalence of widespread sectarian violence and the continued existence of extremity groups like Isis.

Certainly, the increase of liberal imams in the UK will help but it's worth pointing out that almost half of all British mosques are run by conservative/extreme Islamic sects and MI5 say ~1% of the British Muslim populations are a threat to safety and security. Social attitude surveys suggests and 10-30% hold extreme views. So, there's a long way to go.

[ANOTHER] "It’s only natural that, when Islamic thought has adapted to the context in Malaysia, in Pakistan and in Egypt,"

The latter two being among the most misogynistic countries in the world; 90% of women have been genitally mutilated in Egypt.

So maybe there is a little more adapting to do, I reckon.

[ANOTHER] Having visited Malaysia let me assure you they take their Islam seriously there. The Chinese areas are laid back and liberal but Malay areas are every bit as strict as their Middle Eastern counterparts.

[ANOTHER] Far be it from me to denounce the slowest kid in the class when they demonstrate minor but positive incremental changes especially as the fact is that the overwhelming majority of UK Muslims lead peaceful lives.

What’s concerning is that this survey shows little or no improvement in the majority views regarding the more alarming findings shown in the extensive poll of Muslims in the UK in April 2016 conducted by ICM and reported in the Guardian and by Channel 4. Here are just three results with the approximate population numbers included, based on the known 3 Million Muslims in the UK.

52% Muslims agree that homosexuality should illegal in Britain.

38% believe it is not the responsibility of Muslims to condemn terrorist acts carried out in the name of Islam.

6% Muslims say they would not report activities supporting violent extremism to the police.

[ANOTHER] Turkey was relatively secular for 100 years under Ataturk but that hasn't stopped the rise of a virulent strain of Islam there. Nor does it changes the fundamentals of islam one iota.

ECHR Judgement Summary: "sharia law is incompatible with democracy and human rights"

Source: “Annual Report 2003 of the European Court of Human Rights, Council of Europe”

Noting that the Welfare Party had pledged to set up a regime based on sharia law, the Court found that sharia was incompatible with the fundamental principles of democracy as set forth in the Convention. It considered that “sharia, which faithfully reflects the dogmas and divine rules laid down by religion, is stable and invariable. Principles such as pluralism in the political sphere or the constant evolution of public freedoms have no place in it”.

According to the Court, it was difficult to declare one’s respect for democracy and human rights while at the same time supporting a regime based on sharia, which clearly diverged from Convention values, particularly with regard to its criminal law and criminal procedure, its rules on the legal status of women and the way it intervened in all spheres of private and public life in accordance with religious precepts. [The Independent] Read more

03 May 2018

Muslim Man in Court for Threatening to Blow Up French Cathedral for Not Reading Quran

On Saturday, the 37-year-old barged into local landmark St Vincent’s Cathedral of Chalon-sur-Saône and while intoxicated and carrying a bottle of alcohol he yelled: “It is the Quran that must be read!” He then said that he had a grenade and would blow up the church, local news website Info Chalon reports.

The court, which was presided by a tribunal of judges, saw Ahmed ask for a delay in the proceedings to mount a defence, rather than be judged on the day of the hearing.

‘Ahmed’ has a long history of criminality with 27 prior criminal convictions including three cases of death threats and seven convictions for theft. [Breitbart London] Read more